Cosset cafeHome » Latest issue » Good, issue 19 » Cosset cafe
Joanna Mathers checks out a funky neighbourhood cafe with a difference
In a country packed with eateries, it can still be hard to get a decent meal. Sure, there’s everything from Thai to tapas on offer, but for vegetarians, vegans, or gluten-intolerant types, finding a decent place to eat can be a little like searching for the Holy Grail. That’s why the Auckland cafe Cosset, based on a philosophy of inclusiveness, and serving vegan, vegetarian and gluten-free food, is such a great find. Forget tasteless lentils and lettuce leaves – there are pastries, cakes and other baked delights as well as cooked weekend breakfasts including garlic mushrooms and home-style beans.
Many of the recipes were invented by the cafe’s part-owner Rohan Packard, honed from years of experimenting with vegan food. “A lot of people don’t realise meat isn’t on the menu,” says Rohan. “And there are others who ask about it, and then come back anyway cause they like the food so much.”
Cosset is a real family affair. Owned and run by cousins Kellie Gray and Rohan Packard, it has tea cosies knitted by Kellie’s nana and a recycled fire door shaped into a counter by Rohan’s brother Solomon. It’s these bespoke touches that create the vibe of a loved and lived-in home.
The idea for a cafe was born a couple of years ago when the girls were travelling around Australia, working as waitresses. They realised they had a real simpatico – and that vegan food was blimmin’ hard to find. Kellie had worked in hospitality since her early teens and Rohan, the vegan of the pair, wanted to create a place where everyone could eat. The Mt Albert premises, with an A-grade kitchen, and frontage to the busy New North Rd, fitted the bill. With some financial help from Kellie’s nana and lots of elbow grease, Cosset was born.
Sustainability is integral to the Cosset ethos, and organic ingredients are used wherever possible. The coffee is from local organic and fairtrade roaster Kokako and the organic tea is from Kerikeri. The furniture is vintage, much of it sourced from friends and family. Even Mrs Gray’s knitted goods, ranging from baby booties to hand protectors for outdoor bowls, are made from recycled wool. Out back, there’s an organic container garden packed with veggies and herbs for use in the kitchen, and even some catnip for the local moggies.
Since opening on Queen’s Birthday 2010, Cosset has established a reputation for great coffee and some of the best hot cakes in the city. “The hot cake thing is really funny,” laughs Kellie. “They seem to have become legendary among our customers.” At Cosset, locals exchange fresh produce for food and coffee, and the walls are adorned with the art of children who frequent the cafe. Carl, a recycled toy rabbit bought from Supertrash in Eden Terrace, was patched up by a customer and her daughter. They also shaped a prosthetic ear for the cafe’s knitted kitten after it lost one under suspicious circumstances. A black lab is high on the suspect list.
During last year’s Maori Language Week, Cosset adopted the theme of ‘Te Mahi Kai – the language of food’. Everything was labeled in Te Reo and English, Maori music played on the stereo, and customers were greeted with a cheery “kia ora”. Future plans include live music nights, art exhibitions and the option of serving liquor. ‘’The acoustics are surprisingly good for an intimate music venue and we’re also working on having a higher number of exhibitions turning around,” Kellie says.
Whatever’s ahead, it’s bound to be rosy. After all, who can resist a bit of cosseting?